Both Sides Said to Break Truce in Nagorno-Karabakh
Saturday’s Russian-brokered ceasefire in Azerbaijan’s disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region has already been compromised, with Armenian and Azeri officials blaming each other. Both sides in the latest round of fighting, which has killed hundreds since erupting exactly two weeks ago, accuse the other of breaching the truce with automatic weapons fire, shelling and aerial bombings. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who mediated the agreement, said in a communique that the ceasefire had been negotiated on humanitarian grounds. The International Committee of the Red Cross reports that it is ready to facilitate the simultaneous transfer of prisoners and the dead. The renewed fighting has led to fears of a wider conflict that could draw in Turkey, a close ally of Azerbaijan, and Russia, which has a defense pact with neighboring Armenia. Nagorno-Karabakh, close to the Armenian border in the southwestern part of primarily Muslim Azerbaijan, has a large Armenian Christian majority. With the break-up of the Soviet Union – both Azerbaijan and Armenia are former Soviet republics – the population sought to secede, precipitating fighting in the 1990s that killed close to 30,000 people.